My question is based on the following assumptions.

  1. Hitler believed he will eventually win WW2.
  2. Hitler wanted to implement the final solution as part of the Nazi ideology.
  3. Implementing the final solution required resources (manpower, materials, etc) that could have been otherwise used towards the German war effort.

Why didn't Hitler and other top Nazi leaders decide to wait until after winning, or nearly winning, WW2 before starting the implementation of the final solution? Why was he willing to accept the "cost" at the detriment of the war effort? Did he see any immediate "practical advantages" leading him to believe that the final solution has a positive contribution to the German war efforts?

To be clear, this question solely deals with Hitler's and the Nazi high command decision making process and priorities during WW2.

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    Welcome to the site! Please research those assumptions. I'm not sure that the assumptions are generally shared. If I recall correctly, the "functionalism/intentionalism" debate is both subtle and relevant. – MCW May 17 '20 at 16:34
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    Probably not answerable unless you know a good medium :-) Also supposes that Hitler was actually capable of making rational, long-term plans, which I suspect is not really borne out by evidence. – jamesqf May 17 '20 at 16:53
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    @Arie: The problem is in the assumption of rationality. We can see a mild parallel in for instance the current responses to the Coronavirus. It would be rational to listen to medical experts and follow their advice, but we see many people - from high elected officials down to street protestors - trying to pretend the problem doesn't exist, or proposing "wishfull thinking" solutions. – jamesqf May 17 '20 at 19:45
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    One can also conjecture that Hitler regarded killing all Jews in Europe as more important than winning the war. – Moishe Kohan May 17 '20 at 20:55
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    Have you ever hated someone with every fiber of your being ? – Lucian May 17 '20 at 21:37

Hitler believed he will eventually win WW2

The premise of your question is wrong. Hitler never wanted a World War, he had already experienced losing a two front world war once and by the time they started to implement the death camps for real, it was pretty clear that they would likely lose.

Did they just give up when it did not look good? Certainly not. Did anybody talk about it not looking good? Uh, certainly not, that would have been "defeatism" and punishable by death. But don't assume people were blind to the facts just because they did not roll over and accept the inevitable.

For a closer look, I recommend higher ranking military commanders talking in captivity (and being wiretapped) and especially higher ranking military in private conversations. In the middle of the Barbarossa campaign, months from the winter debacle, General Heinrici wrote to his wife, which properties to sell and which to keep, because some would lose in value quickly after allied bombers would be in reach. People were not blind to the fact that Barbarossa had been a gamble and it had been lost.

So Hitler had no grand plans for world domination. We don't know whether he actually believed they would win the war they had on their hands, but people with some realistic viewpoints did not and there is no reason to believe Hitler did not know this. The fact that he did propagate the "Endsieg" until the very end is hardly surprising given the fact that defeat meant his certain personal death. You don't give up fights that end with your own death, no matter how slim the chances. And you certainly don't tell your team all is lost if you want them to fight for you.

So the more realistic leaders did not believe it would all turn out well and others were consumed by their hatred anyway.

  • Thank you for your detailed answer and pointing out the problem with my 1st assumption. I now realize my question may be poorly formulated. However I think the essence of the question still makes sense - and even more so given your answer - how did Hitler rationalize prioritizing the final solution over the general war effort? – Arie May 17 '20 at 17:26

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